Thames Water to pay out £200,000 after losing appeal over Beckenham flood ruling

PUBLISHED: 15:41 01 October 2013 | UPDATED: 15:43 01 October 2013

Thames Water has been criticised by the Environment Agency after losing an appeal over a ruling that it must pay more than £200,000 in fines and compensation to people affected by a two-month sewer flood in Beckenham a decade ago.

The water utility was even ordered by a judge to increase the amount it paid to two people affected by the 2003 flooding, in Elmers End, which the agency said saw homes, gardens, allotments and a stream affected by raw effluent.

It was also ordered to pay the £10,000 prosecution costs of the Environment Agency, which claimed today that when legal costs were taken into account Thames Water had spent around £750,000 in a 10-year fight against the case it brought.

Angus Innes, from the agency’s prosecutions team, said: “It could reasonably be suggested that the money spent on this litigation could have been better applied to replacing and augmenting the sewer system in this area to protect the residents from further sewer flooding.”

Judge Anthony Leonard, sitting at Southwark Crown Court in London last week, rejected Thames Water’s appeal and ordered it to increase the compensation paid to a homeowner from £2,000 to £3,000 and that to an allotment holder from £250 to £1,000, court officials confirmed.

The appeal related to damage done between February and April 2003.

The company was ordered to pay a total of £208,015 in fines and compensation by magistrates in Bromley in 2011.

A Thames Water spokesman said: “We deeply regret any impact on our customers or the environment caused by sewage escaping from our 68,000-mile network of sewers.

“In this case we appealed the original fines imposed by the Bromley magistrates as we felt they failed to take into account our mitigating actions during the period concerned.

“We lost this appeal and we accept the court’s decision.”

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